Nate Williams cuts a hydraulic hose at ProPulse, a Schieffer company, in Peosta, Iowa, on Friday. The manufacturer will receive a state grant of nearly $455,000.    PHOTO CREDIT: JESSICA REILLY, The Associated Press

Local manufacturers are looking to automation with an increase in state funding of $ 3.3 million

Workforce Innovation Grants

Iowa manufacturers with between 76 and 250 employees could apply for a grant of up to $ 500,000, with a minimum match of 25% required.

  • Dubuque Molding and Manufacturing, Dubuque – $ 500,000.
  • East Iowa Machine Co., Farley – $ 500,000.
  • Inventory Trading Co., Peosta – $ 500,000.
  • Plastics Unlimited, Preston – $ 475,000.
  • ProPulse, a Schieffer Co., Peosta – $ 453,192.
  • Klauer Manufacturing, Dubuque – $ 434,110.
  • Premier Tooling & Manufacturing, Peosta – $ 179,025.

Iowa manufacturers with three to 75 employees could claim a total of $ 75,000 between the two categories below, with a 100% match required for each grant.

Grants for investments in equipment technologies

  • Dynamic pipe, Maquoketa – $ 50,000.
  • EIP Production, Earlville – $ 50,000.
  • JAM Systems and Midland Overhead Doors, Dyersville – $ 50,000.
  • MJ Sports, Anamosa – $ 50,000.
  • Universal tank and manufacture, Dubuque – $ 50,000.

Grants for investments in infrastructure for the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

  • EIP Production: $ 25,000.
  • MJ Sports – $ 25,000.

Amid an ongoing labor shortage, a number of local manufacturers will receive a $ 3.3 million boost in state funding that encourages expanded automation.

The 12 companies in the area are among more than 80 companies receiving grants through Iowa’s Manufacturing 4.0 program. The grants, available through the Iowa Economic Development Authority, are designed to help address workforce problems and fund projects that include the adoption and integration of smart technologies.

Iowa manufacturers with between 76 and 250 employees could apply for a grant of up to $ 500,000, with a minimum match required of 25%.

One such local business is ProPulse, a Schieffer company, based in Peosta. The hose manufacturer plans to use its $ 453,192 grant to expand automation in its wrapping processes and add pick-and-place robots, said president and CEO Jeff Theis.

“We already have some semi-automatic winding and assembly systems in place, so we will continue to add and refine them for a higher degree of production and accuracy,” he said.

Dubuque Stamping and Manufacturing, which provides machining services such as metal stamping and laser cutting, received a $ 500,000 grant. President Matt Spahn said the funding will help the company add advanced software and manufacturing equipment.

“Dubuque Stamping will invest approximately $ 1.5 million in new equipment and technology this year,” he said. “We are thrilled with the Manufacturing 4.0 grant Governor (Kim) Reynolds has made available. Opportunities like this ensure that Iowa manufacturing remains globally competitive. “

Inventory Trading Co. in Peosta employs approximately 180 people across its two brands: Hero247, which produces fabrics for police, fire and FBI departments, and X-Grain Sportswear, which produces fabrics for sports teams.

Before COVID-19, the company also employed non-traditional workers who did other full-time jobs but spent several hours with Inventory Trading Co .. in the evenings.

When the pandemic hit, those additional employees “evaporated as if they were pouring water onto the asphalt,” said President Pat Einarsen. Some workers were concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19, while others were working overtime on their full-time jobs to meet the growing demand.

Inventory Trading Co. has turned to greater automation, advanced computer technologies and new machinery to bridge the gap. A $ 500,000 Manufacturing 4.0 grant will help continue these efforts.

Einarsen said automation integration can reduce training time, deepen the hiring pool, and eliminate human error, while enabling employees to work more efficiently and safely.

“You can’t afford to think like it’s the 80s or 90s,” he said. “You have to think like it’s the 1930s. The Innovation Scholarship gives us the ability to use the right equipment, the right training and the right process. “

In Farley, East Iowa Machine Co. received a $ 500,000 grant. President and CFO Aaron Saeugling said the company will use it to add robots and five-axis CNC milling machines used to create components.

“(Automation) will definitely be needed in the future, and to get some of these parts out the door, we’re going to have to find creative solutions,” he said.

Iowa manufacturers with three to 75 employees can apply for up to $ 75,000, with a 100% match required for each grant.

Dynamic Tube employees at Maquoketa will immediately see the benefits of the company’s $ 50,000 grant.

General Manager John Pawlowski said the grant will finance the purchase of a high-production saw, which is already installed at the company’s facility. The saw can be programmed to cut tubes at the push of a button, allowing Dynamic Tube to increase throughput and lower the price.

“Especially right now, when it’s hard to find employees that can meet the needs, robotics and more automated processes, where a smaller number of actual people are required, are becoming much more engaged,” he said.

Local executives contacted by the Telegraph Herald stressed that greater automation does not coincide with planned cuts in the workforce. Many continue to hire employees, and Theis said the new technology could create new jobs for equipment maintenance workers.

“Of course, nobody wants to eliminate the human element,” he said. “We’re just trying to find ways to make the human component of manufacturing simpler, better and more accurate.”

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